Imagine if we switched off all power, all cars stopped running, all lights stopped working, all planes stopped flying and all factories stopped running. The Earth’s temperature has already risen by 0.9°C, and we are committed to a further rise of 0.6°C while we wait for all the additional carbon dioxide to work its way back down to Earth.1 As a result, no matter what we now do, global temperatures will rise by at least 1.5°C. Unfortunately, even this minor temperature change will have severe consequences.
The temperature rise will result in both water shortages and food shortages throughout many of the most vulnerable countries in the world.2 It will also lead to both the intensity and the number of forest fires increasing,3 droughts becoming longer and more intense,4 and the deserts expanding by more than three million square kilometres.5
Incredibly, despite switching off all power, fossil fuels will still have been responsible for an estimated 100 million deaths since the turn of the century.10 That means, even if we shut down everything today, more people will have died due to fossil fuels than then those who died as a result of World War II.11
Sadly, no matter how quickly we react, these events are unavoidable. The massive amount of greenhouse gases we have already released into the atmosphere has guaranteed this. Quite simply, we have entered a state of damage limitation.
Added to this, if we allow temperatures to exceed 2°C, we lock ourselves into a near-apocalyptic future as the additional carbon dioxide released from thawing permafrost soils, forest fires and vegetation feedback sends the planet’s temperature spiralling out of control.12 It is time to make a stand. It is time to put a stop to climate change.
ZERO EMISSION WORLD proves we can prevent climate change if we have the courage and the will to do so. It will demonstrate how we can stabilise the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent in the atmosphere at 450 ppm by putting an end to all human-made emissions by as early as 2030. Not only this though, ZERO EMISSION WORLD will demonstrate how we can stop all our emissions with only minimal impact on our modern lifestyles. Before we get started though, we need to learn a few technical terms by reading the ‘Watt Is It’ article.
BACKGROUND IMAGE 01 // Image taken by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and reproduced under license to be used within text books. Minor modifications undertaken by Super Radical.
BACKGROUND IMAGE 02 // Image taken by NASA and reproduced under license to be used within text books. Minor modifications undertaken by Super Radical.
BACKGROUND IMAGE 03 // Image taken by norinori303 and reproduced under license from Adobe Stock.
BACKGROUND IMAGE 04 // Image taken by Dr Morley Read and reproduced under license from Shutterstock.
BACKGROUND IMAGE 05 // Image taken by Lawrence Ong of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and reproduced under license to be used within text books. Minor modifications undertaken by Super Radical.
BACKGROUND IMAGE 06 // Image taken by Boris Diakovsky and reproduced under license from Shutterstock.
BACKGROUND IMAGE 07 // Image taken by Victor Lauer and reproduced under license from Shutterstock.
BACKGROUND IMAGE 08 // Image taken by The U.S. Army, released on Flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons license CC BY 2.0.
BACKGROUND IMAGE 09 // Image created by Super Radical. Sky underlay taken by Alekss and reproduced under license from Adobe Stock. City underlay taken by Migel and reproduced under license from Shutterstock. Special thanks to Marie Rouger, Martina Petrosino and Harry Harrison for their assistance creating this image.
Barrels of oil equivalent is based on 1628.2 kWh of energy being contained within each barrel. Data sourced from Unit Juggler – ‘Converter: Barrel of Oil Equivalent to Kilowatt-Hour’ – unitjuggler.com.
The volume of one tonne of carbon dioxide is equivalent to 556.2 cubic metres. Sourced from International Carbon Bank and Exchange – ‘CO2 Volume Calculation’ – www.icbe.com.
For further information about any of the sources listed, please visit the ZERO EMISSION WORLD Works Cited page.
- Rise of 0.9°C based on the rise in average global temperature recorded between 1880 and 2012. Sourced from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – ‘Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report’ – Page 2. Further rise of 0.6°C sourced from Hansen et al. – ‘Earth’s Energy Imbalance: Confirmation and Implications’ – Pages 1,431 to 1,435.
- Water shortages based on a likely 9% reduction in water availability within the Mediterranean if average global temperatures rise by 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Sourced from Schleussner et al. – ‘Differential Climate Impacts for Policy-Relevant Limits to Global Warming: The Case of 1.5°C and 2°C’ – Pages 334 to 335. Food shortages based on projections that two-thirds of Africa’s arable land will be lost between 2005 and 2025. Sourced from United Nations Economic and Social Council, Economic Commission for Africa – ‘Africa Review Report on Drought and Desertification’ – Page 9. Please note, land loss is not solely due to climate change, but also a result of inappropriate farming systems, overgrazing, poor land management practices, lack of soil and water conservation structures and a high incidence of indiscriminate bushfires. Sourced from United Nations, Economic and Social Council, Economic Commission for Africa – ‘Africa Review Report on Drought and Desertification’ – Page 4.
- Based on the frequency of severe fire danger days within Adelaide, Sydney and Canberra increasing by 8 to 17% if average global temperatures rise by 2°C above pre-industrial levels and six additional weeks of fire risk being experienced for the majority of Mediterranean countries if average global temperatures rise by 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Increased frequency of severe fire danger days in Australia sourced from Greenpeace – ‘Future Risk: The Increased Risk of Catastrophic Bushfires Due to Climate Change’ – Page 7.
- Based on a median increase in warm spell duration of around one month for 50% of the global land area if average global temperatures rise by 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Sourced from Schleussner et al. – ‘Differential Climate Impacts for Policy-Relevant Limits to Global Warming: The Case of 1.5°C and 2°C’ – Page 331.
- Based on average global temperatures likely rising by a further 0.6°C even if we stop all emissions today. Sourced from Hansen et al. – ‘Earth’s Energy Imbalance: Confirmation and Implications’ – Pages 1,431 to 1,435.
- Loss of coral reefs based on less than 10% of the world’s coral reefs being preserved if average global temperatures rise by 1.5 °C more than pre-industrial levels. Sourced from Frieler et al. – ‘Limiting Global Warming to 2°C is Unlikely to Save Most Coral Reefs’ – Pages 165 to 170. Loss of the Great Barrier Reef based on 42% of the coral being bleached in 1998, 54% of the coral being bleached in 2002 and 93% of the coral being bleached in 2016. Bleaching in1998 and 2002 sourced from Kerry, James – ‘Coral Bleaching and the Great Barrier Reef’ – www.coralcoe.org.au. Bleaching in 2016 sourced from ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies – ‘Only 7% of the Great Barrier Reef Has Avoided Coral Bleaching’ – www.coralcoe.org.au. For reference, bleaching describes the whitening of coral that results from the loss of a coral’s symbiotic algae or the degradation of the algae’s photosynthetic pigment. Sourced from Encyclopaedia Britannica – ‘Coral Bleaching’ – www.britannica.com.
- Based on projections from The Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Science and Services that a 2°C rise above pre-industrial levels will result in between 20% and 40% of the Amazon dying. Sourced from Adam, David – ‘Amazon Could Shrink by 85% Due to Climate Change, Scientists Say’ – www.theguardian.com.
- Loose estimate based on the Amazon being home to 427 types of mammal, 378 types of reptile, 400 types of amphibian and at least 1,300 types of bird. Number of species in the Amazon sourced from World Wild Fund for Nature – ‘About the Amazon: Wildlife’ – wwf.panda.org.
- Sea-level rise based on a likely 40-centimetre rise if average global temperatures rise by 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Sourced from Schleussner et al. – ‘Differential Climate Impacts for Policy-Relevant Limits to Global Warming: The Case of 1.5°C and 2°C’ – Pages 340 to 342. Increase in the number of people suffering from coastal flooding sourced from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – ‘Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability’ – Page 484.
- Loose estimate based on an estimated 4,975,000 fossil fuel-related deaths in 2010. Sourced from Development Assistance Research Associates (DARA) and the Climate Vulnerable Forum – ‘Climate Vulnerability Monitor 2nd Edition: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet’ – Page 17.
- Based on between 40 million to 50 million people losing their lives within World War II. Sourced from Encyclopaedia Britannica – ‘World War II’ – www.britannica.com.
- Based on the terrestrial biosphere acting as an overall carbon sink until global temperatures rise by around 2°C above pre-industrial levels, at which point the terrestrial biosphere becomes a carbon emitter, forest fires emissions increasing by at least 50% and up to as much as 300% as a result of climate change and thawing permafrost soil releasing a further 58 ppm of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere by 2100 even if human-made greenhouse gas emissions are stopped by the end of the century. Vegetation feedback sourced from Cox et al. – ‘Acceleration of Global Warming Due to Carbon-Cycle Feedbacks in a Coupled Climate Model’ – Pages 184 to 187. Forest fire emissions sourced from Power, Lauren – ‘Global Wildfires, Carbon Emissions and the Changing Climate’ – Pages 1 to 6. Thawing permafrost emissions sourced from MacDougall et al. – ‘Significant Contribution to Climate Warming from the Permafrost Carbon Feedback’ – pages 719 to 721.
The damage caused by climate change does not stop here. Find out what disasters our greenhouse gas emissions will likely cause in the next decade by clicking the link below. Alternatively, find out how we can stop climate change by returning to the main menu.